This too shall pass: new year optimism

January 20, 2021

Photograph of Emily Kelly, collage designed by Finn Souter

Emily Kelly reflects on a turbulent 2020 and looks forward to a transformative 2021

Whether you took a gap year, a fashion foundation year, went straight to university, or moved into a new year at school; these are peculiar times for us all. The world could forget every other year in a hurry but not the year 2020.

Whilst no one could have prepared us for this – isn’t that kind of exciting? We are part of something that has never happened before. So, yes you might be nervous or uncertain, but so are our teachers, professors and parents – us and the rest of the planet!

Online learning, 24-hour exams and lots of emails. It’s all new and it’s definitely not what we might have been dreaming our university experience would be, but it’s unique and I guess it’s all we’ve got!

I started university a week late so I missed the corona take on freshers week. I felt everyone seemed to know each other so well when I arrived but did they really? No probably not! But is that something that could have happened pre-corona anyway? Anxiety always comes with starting something new.

Jumping into the deep end and thinking you’re going to drown is how I felt and maybe you did too? But look around: everyone else is in the deep end with you. Maybe you’re not swimming just yet, but you’re floating, just like
everyone else.

Let yourself be uncertain and just go with it; easier said than done, I hear you say…

Corona can’t take away our desire for a fresh start, new people, new passions and opportunities. This pandemic can put our lectures online, yes, but you’re still here, aren’t you? In a new place with so many possibilities, maybe not for right now, but, unlike those essays, there’s no deadline for new adventures.

Uncertainty should excite you because life goes on and it has been going on throughout all of this. You’ve made it here when maybe earlier in the year you weren’t so certain. Surely that shows that anything can happen. Let yourself be uncertain and just go with it. Easier said than done for sure, but there aren’t many alternatives. And let’s remember: this too shall pass.

Be Proud, I am!

It’s nearly midnight on 31st December 2020 as I start writing this. The year we never thought would end is finally drawing to a close and you’ll be settling into 2021 by the time you’re reading this. We could sit here together and get all nostalgic, and by all means, a bit of reflection can be useful, but let’s not be too cliche.

Let’s embrace the uncertainty, that awaits, with hope.

“We’ve had a lot of time to sit with ourselves last year, something we might have been avoiding for a long time

I just want to quickly tell you something – friend to friend – that I am so proud of you. For getting through whatever you got through last year and maybe not much has happened on the surface, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

We’ve had a lot of time to sit with ourselves during 2020, something some of us might have been avoiding for a long time. It’s kind of like going to the hairdressers. Despite the pimples on your chin, too many late nights appearing as dark rings under your eyes or a fading summer tan, you are forced to sit there in front of that mirror and just stare at yourself.

No matter how badly you don’t want to look, there’s no avoiding it. As I said, I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but you did it, you looked and maybe it wasn’t so bad was it?

Maybe it was hard and you used social media or music, to try and be a little less alone with your thoughts. Maybe you picked up running or picked up that book again. Maybe you re-found a passion for something you once loved and feel excited for the first time in a while.

Anyway, I’m proud of you nonetheless, so keep doing what you’re doing and maybe more. Here’s to the end of 2020 and what it was, and to 2021 and what it could be.

Emily Kelly is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh studying Social Anthropology and Sustainable Development. Emily took a gap year and travelled to South East Asia, Central America and Tanzania in East Africa. She is passionate about travelling and seeing the world as well as the power of writing and how we can connect and share our experiences through it.

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